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Investigators examine the scene at the Wake Forest Innovation Quarter where a construction worker died Tuesday, July 7, 2015. 

The sister of the man who died Tuesday in a construction accident at Wake Forest Innovation Quarter said her brother was one of a kind.

Judy Templeton, 61, said Wednesday that her brother, Dennis Michael Laney, 65, of Chester, S.C., was a great father and uncle, and was an animal lover.

Laney, who died in an incident involving a cherry picker, had five brothers and four sisters, Templeton said.

He also owned five horses, she said.

“He was just the kindest, sweetest man you’d ever meet,” she said. “He was a normal guy but to his family he wasn’t – to us he was special.”

Laney worked in construction most of his life and enjoyed it, Templeton said.

He also enjoyed being with his family.

“He’d come down here and aggravate and play with the kids,” she said. “They’d go camping and he’d take them out on his boat. It’s very hard to know he’s not going to be with us anymore.”

Templeton said she learned about her brother’s death through social media.

Winston-Salem police said Officer Brian Tolliver contacted one of Laney’s brother’s, Larry Laney, but Templeton said she first saw it on Facebook.

“We were just so shocked to see his name printed and no one had told us,” she said. “That bothered us a great deal.”

Templeton said she is still trying to contact other family members, including Laney’s daughter and two sons.

“I just don’t want them to find out on social media like I did,” she said. “That’s really what hurt my feelings the most.”

Investigation continuing

The state’s Occupational Safety and Health Division is continuing to investigate Laney’s death, which occurred as he was working between 525@Vine and Plant 60 in the innovation quarter.

Laney worked for Bonitz Contracting Company in Concord, said Dolores Quesenberry, a spokeswoman for OSHD.

Bonitz was a subcontractor for Whiting-Turner.

When an incident or fatality happens, employers typically have eight hours to notify the N.C. Department of Labor. OSHD then starts an investigation.

“The whole point of an investigation is to determine if there were any standard violations,” Quesenberry said. “They take photos, interview witnesses and try to piece together exactly what happened.”

OSHD cannot give details of an open investigation, Quesenberry said.

Bonitz, Laney’s employer, already has an open safety investigation with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Inspectors found two standards violations, including a scaffold training violation, according to preliminary information from the U.S. Department of Labor website. Bonitz has 11 offices in the Southeast.

Whiting-Turner, headquartered in Baltimore, has more than 30 offices throughout the country, including Raleigh and Charlotte. The company has had four health and safety inspections because of complaints this calendar year, including one near the site of Laney’s death. That incident involved exposure to lead and asbestos and did not result in a citation.

Whiting-Turner has received two citations in North Carolina, though. In Durham last year, the company was penalized for two serious standard violations involving fall protection. Whiting-Turner was fined $4,225 for both violations.

In 2011, the company was fined $1,650 for a flammable liquids violation in Manteo.

Between October 2014 and May 2015, there were 24 workplace fatalities in North Carolina, according to statistics from the Department of Labor. Eight of those fatalities were in the construction industry; three were in Winston-Salem.

Falls from elevation caused 10 deaths.

Templeton said she has gotten very little information about the circumstances surrounding her brother’s death.

“We’d just like to find out what happened,” Templeton said. “We’re not looking to blame anyone. We just want to know the truth.”

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